The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday as it works to finalize a bill that supporters say will integrate the state’s energy planning and communities’ land use planning.
Before a floor vote on S.230, the Senate Finance Committee must decide whether to leave in a provision allotting $300,000 for the training of local officials in energy planning. Under the bill, the Public Service Board would be required to give “substantial deference” to approved energy siting plans drawn up by towns and regions.
The House Natural Resources and Energy Committee had stripped the $300,000 from the bill, but the Senate Energy Committee restored it after the House passed its version of the bill last week.
Senate Natural Resources Chairman Chris Bray, D-Addison, said he didn’t think keeping the funding provision would endanger the bill among House members.
“My understanding is that they get that a program without funding is no program at all,” Bray said.
Bray said he knows of nothing in the bill that House Natural Resources and Energy members consider a deal-breaker.
“I think it’s critical that we pass this bill,” he said. “There are a lot of people who’d like to see us complete the work.” Bray noted that as many as 70 audience members crowded into his committee’s meeting Monday morning to watch the bill’s progress.
By letting regional planning commissions write energy plans for their areas, the bill would give regions and towns the ability to direct the Public Service Board on where renewable energy projects should and should not go. This direction would bind the board except when the general good of the state clearly and convincingly requires otherwise.
S.230 also directs the Public Service Board to develop standards for how much noise can come from wind energy generators.
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